While our Thanksgiving dinner tables may look a little different this year, one thing remains the same: Thanksgiving is a time to catch up and reconnect with loved ones. Whether you are doing this by phone, Zoom, or at a social distanced gathering, many of our conversations will reveal that our families and friends hold views—particularly on politicized issues like immigration—that may differ from our own.
This year, resist the urge to try to convince your family and friends of the error of their ways. But also resist the urge to disregard their views. After all, how can we expect our leaders to find solutions to immigration and the many other serious issues facing our country if we can’t even talk to our family and friends?
This isn’t easy. Our bubbles were fortified this year—we continued to self-select the media we consume, surround ourselves with friends and colleagues with whom we agree, and “defriend” those with different views. For many of us, our policy views have come to define us. And when someone disagrees with us on policy, it can feel like a personal attack.
Yet, after a year of polarizing rhetoric from our political leaders—where even safety guidelines like wearing face masks managed to divide us—many people are eager for a new path forward.
We are desperate to bring civility back to our dialogue, “to lower the temperature. To see each other again,” as President-elect Biden recently put it.
Make it your goal this Thanksgiving to learn about how your friends and family feel about the pressing issues they face.
Go ahead and ask probing questions, but mostly listen with an open heart and mind. And let yourself feel what connects us, rather than focus on what makes us different.
Immigration isn’t a topic to tackle over one dinner or one Zoom call, but we can start with the building blocks. Curiosity, listening with a real openness, finding connection, and deep understanding. One conversation will open the door to the next.
FILED UNDER: Talking Turkey